broody birds

The bad news is that Daisy is broody again. The third time this spring/early summer? Both Ella and Caroline also had broody spells earlier this spring. In the past, we’ve had problems with all three of them going broody at once–and for extended periods of time (weeks, verging on a month straight). Of course, it’s very sweet that they want to be hen-moms and raise chicks, but it’s not very convenient when they are supposed to be laying hens. Laying as in laying eggs, not laying around being broody in a nest box.

The good news is that the only hens who have gone broody (knock on wood) are our original trio of Daisy, Ella, and Caroline. I don’t get this. Is it because they are chicken mutts? Not a single breed? Not a heritage breed? We don’t know. But we’re thankful that the dominiques and eggers haven’t gone broody (again, knock on wood).

The other good news is that Ron’s figured out how to control their broodiness–mostly. As he read on that great fount of knowledge, The Internet, you can generally separate the broody hen(s) for a few days from the rest of the flock. It’s also not supposed to have a nest box so they can’t hunker down into their little nest and go broody.  They have distinctive chatter and sounds they make, even body poses when they go broody. Mostly, they hunker down and grump at you, “leave me alone!”

Fortunately a former co-worker at the co-op gave Ron a mobile coop. We used it to raise Scruffy and the eggers [<– still a great band name…]. Now we use it as “chicken prison” when we separate a broody girl. Ron blocked off the two nest boxes so they have a roost, the ground, and water and food bins–but no comfy nest. Otherwise, they have to hang out by themselves in the mobile coop in the orchard isolated from the rest of the hens.

What we’ve found is that after about three days in the isolation ward/chicken prison, the hens give it up and are fine. Until they go broody again. But at least we’ve figured out how to reduce the broodiness significantly. That means our egg production is up this spring and summer.

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One Response to broody birds

  1. Lisa Kozleski says:

    This is such a fascinating update, Sara. So interesting to read about the problem (and solutions!). Poor Daisy…

    [Lethbridge College]Lisa Kozleski
    Senior writer and editor
    Lethbridge College
    403-320-3202 X5778

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